When it comes to being the first major US mobile operator to roll out LTE-U tech (which is short for LTE Unlicensed technology), it looks like T-Mobile has won the race, even beating industry leader Verizon Wireless to the finish line. According to the third biggest wireless carrier in the United States, it has successfully deployed its LTE-U service in select locations that include Bellevue in Washington, Brooklyn in New York, Dearborn in Michigan, Las Vegas in Nevada, Richardson in Texas, and Simi Valley in California.
Not only that, T-Mobile also took the opportunity to announce that it had achieved America’s first ever mobile broadband data session live out in the field utilizing LAA (which is short for License Assisted Access) on its commercial network. The field testing was initiated in the city of Los Angeles in California during the weekend, and its results displayed 741 mbps download speeds using 80 MegaHertz of aggregated spectrum.
In an interesting twist, it was actually Verizon Wireless that first started the LTE-U Forum around three years ago, with the help of tech companies such as Samsung, Alcatel-Lucent (which is now part of Nokia), Ericsson, and Qualcomm. The main objective of the forum was to establish standards that will be used for making LTE-U tech compatible with Wi-Fi as well as other forms of wireless technology. In forming the LTE-U Forum, the Big Red had hoped to debut the technology by the year 2016, but that plan never materialized. With T-Mobile now beating Verizon to the punch, the industry leader is now looking to also roll out its LTE-U and LAA offerings before the end of 2017.
As for T-Mobile’s LTE-U offering, the mobile operator claims that its technology will allow it achieve improved network capacity as well as faster connection speeds, and its customers will never have to enable a feature or download a software update or mobile app. The carrier further stated that the service works for existing T-Mobile subscribers who currently own compatible mobile devices and are based in locations where LTE-U has launched. Although the company has not provided a full list of compatible handsets yet, it did announce back in March early this year that Samsung’s flagship smartphones, the Galaxy S8 and the Galaxy S8 Plus, will be the first devices to use T-Mobile’s LTE-U service. Without using too much licensed airwaves, LTE-U is capable of achieving similar connection speeds and network capacity as other technologies utilized by T-Mobile, including carrier aggregation, 256 QAM (which is short for Quadrature Amplitude Modulation), and 4 X 4 MIMO (which is short for Multiple Input Multiple Output).
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